The Skull of Truth: A Magic Shop Book

by Bruce Coville

Paperback, 1999



Local notes

PB Cov




Aladdin (1999), 208 pages


Charlie, a sixth-grader with a compulsion to tell lies, acquires a mysterious skull that forces its owner to tell only the truth, causing some awkward moments before he understands its power.


Original language


Physical description

208 p.; 5.3 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member StormRaven
The Skull of Truth is part of the Magic Shop series of books featuring the mysterious magic shop of the mercurial Mr. Elives. As usual, the protagonist, a young man named Charlie, is beset with troubles - mostly involving his efforts to save the local swamp from development, and as a result he has
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been telling lies about the developer, who is the father of one Mark, of his classmates. In general, Charlie seems to have a hard time telling the truth, and as a result, nobody believes him.

As usual for these books, after a run in with Mark, serving as the antagonist for this installment of the series, and his assorted gang members, Charlie finds himself in an unfamiliar part of his town standing outside Mr. Elives magic shop. Inside he meets the testy Mr. Elives and becomes enamored of a skull on display. Without understanding why, Charlie steals the skull, and his adventures begin.

Charlie later gets a message from Mr. Elives (delivered by his two talking rat messengers Jerome and Roxanne) warning him of the powers of the skull. It turns out the skull is the Skull of Truth (and also the skull of Yorick of Halmet fame), and by asking it a question, Charlie opened up comminucation with it. The Skull can't tell a lie, nor can the owner. Eventually, anyone near it is compelled to tell the truth. Charlie soon learns the drawbacks of always telling the truth: first offending Gilbert, a friend of his recovering from cancer, and then revealing his affection for Karen, a girl in his class.

However, like most of the magic shop books, Charlie's magical McGuffin is intended to teach him a valuable lesson (even though Mr. Elives apparently didn't know he was going to grab it and run out of the shop, a twist new to the series), and through the rest of the book, he learns the value of being truthful with those around you. He learns how to ask for forgiveness, and his efforts to make up for harming Gilbert end up helping Gilbert more than he could have if he hadn't been truthful to begin with. Charlie also learns that when one tells people how you feel, it usually works out to your benefit in the long run. After a humorous scene in which Charlie's family airs outs all their family secrets (unknowingly under the influence of the Skull), Charlie figures out how to use the power of truth to save his swamp, and eventually reconciles with Mark.

The story has a cameo by Jennifer Murdley from Jennifer Murdley's Toad, although you have to be paying attention to notice it. The story has a few minor twists, and the eventual fate of the Skull and Charlie is somewhat unexpected, but not out of character for the magic shop books. Charlie ends up wiser for his experience, and a young reader will probably end up having thoroughly enjoyed the story.
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LibraryThing member kathleenandrews
Entertaining story about a young boy, bullied, who happens upon a "magical" skull (and the various predicaments he gets into).
LibraryThing member lisa1.
The Skull of Truth by Bruce Coville is a fantasy/science fiction book. The book teaches children about telling the truth
which is very important. The book speaks on environmental issues, homosexuality, honesty, magic, and bullys.
LibraryThing member nancysauve
I liked this book because it had some odd characters. The new librarian and the man who owned the magic shop. I like quirky. The skull was funny too.
LibraryThing member errudd
After coming across the skull of truth a boy is unable to lie.
Upper elementary
THEMES- lying, truth, friendship, right vs. wrong
LibraryThing member ginamaria14
Charlie Eggleston is the biggest liar in town. When he finds himself at Mr. Elives' magic shop, his eyes light upon the skull. He steals it, and it puts him under some sort of spell: Soon he can only tell the truth--but now no one believes him! I really liked this book because I feel like children
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could relate to it and realize that telling the truth is better even if it hurts feelings.
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LibraryThing member cdelonis
Made me stop and wonder what life would be like if everyone told the truth all the time!
LibraryThing member mutantpudding
This book is a bit heavier than others in the series but everything is handled well and its a damn good read. made me cry tho.




½ (71 ratings; 3.5)
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